12 suspected terrorists were found dead in their prison cells in west Burkina Faso, local prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The prosecutor for the town of Fada N’Gourma said in a statement that 25 people had been detained overnight Monday and “unfortunately, 12 of them died during the night in the cells they were being held in.”
An investigation has been launched and officers of the judicial police are at the scene as well as health officials, the prosecutor said.
According to security sources contacted by AFP, “only the investigation can determine the cause of the deaths, but one possible explanation was asphyxiation.”
Independent sources explained that most of those detained were ethnic Fula who are regularly accused of having links with jihadist groups.
11 people suspected of drug trafficking were found dead in a single cell while in the custody of the national police drugs squad on July 2019. The heads of the squad were fired and an investigation was launched.
Security forces in the country have been frequently accused of mistreating Fula people.
According to the Burkinabe human rights organization, MBDHP, a Fula teacher was found dead in a police station in Ouagadougou on May 2.
He had been arrested on April 23 in Absouya in the west of Burkina Faso, suspected of having links with terrorist groups.
At least four people, all Fula, have been victims of forced disappearance in Ouagadougou between December and January, MBDHP said.
The Burkinabe army, as well as vigilante groups have also been accused of killing Fula civilians in the north and east of the country in the wake of jihadist violence.